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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Only Way is South...
Walking Home by Simon Armitage

Simon Armitage doesn't half make it hard for himself. The Pennine Way is bad enough South to North but the other way round, and having to sing (read poetry) for your supper is just plain daft, but in a good way... And this is a joyous book for, all the privations of walking day in and day out. He has a wonderful turn of phrase,...
Published on 27 Sept. 2012 by Jonathan Davidson

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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Drowning in mud and despair; very eloquently
Interesting well written book; not at all like the usual nerdish walking guides. But my gut feeling is that it wasn't written as a result of the walk but rather the walk was undertaken in order to write the book. There's an awful lot of these book driven enterprises about these days. Some years ago Victoria Coren wrote a book about making a porn film but again I suspect...
Published on 16 July 2012 by Gerald Cheshire


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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Only Way is South..., 27 Sept. 2012
By 
Jonathan Davidson (The English Midlands) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Walking Home (Hardcover)
Walking Home by Simon Armitage

Simon Armitage doesn't half make it hard for himself. The Pennine Way is bad enough South to North but the other way round, and having to sing (read poetry) for your supper is just plain daft, but in a good way... And this is a joyous book for, all the privations of walking day in and day out. He has a wonderful turn of phrase, knowing but open hearted, soaking up all the experiences and a great line in self-deprecation. There are some very funny moments (the Doughnut-man outside the poetry reading venue is terrific; only in Yorkshire, perhaps?) and a fabulous attention to detail. He knows about birdlife and about physical geography (and he's probably a dab hand at Weber's Concentric Rings Theory should any human geography scenarios kick-in) and he has enough other folk along for the walk to cover all the other bases.

So what we have is a very good writer, who knows a thing or two, with a bunch of others who know a thing or two too and the ever changing weather and the hills and a fair smattering of characters who pop up at readings or stick things in Simon's `collecting money for the poet sock' (read the book, all will be explained). It really is a marvellous picture of England, northern England particularly, but low-fi, walking-pace, turned-out-nice-again England. And it was a damned good idea; just right for this particular poet (there are plenty of poets I can think of who'd not get this right, they'd go and fall off Hadrian's Wall or catch trench-foot or take a helicopter...). And the fact that... no, I won't say how it ends but it isn't what you expect but is absolutely right. And if you get the chance to hear/see Simon talking about this book (perhaps in a major Midlands' city in October 2012) you get a free slide shown thrown in for nothing; can't say fairer than that.
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46 of 49 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The journey home, 29 Jun. 2012
By 
C. Colley (Lincs) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Walking Home (Hardcover)
Simon Armitage is a modern day poet and author. He decides to walk the 256 mile Pennine Way in the summer of 2010 from north to south, so that he feels like he is walking 'home' towards Yorkshire, rather than away from it.
The main feature of his challenge is to finance the trip with pre-arranged poetry readings at various places along the away.
The book describes his highs and lows of the walk and the varied personalities he meets on the route and at the poetry reading in the evenings.
'Walking Home' is not specifically aimed at people who enjoy walking, but it is the initial reason why I first became interested in this book. I actually think that it will appeal to walkers and non walkers alike. I'm not a fan of poetry at all and Simon's account of his trip does not get bogged down with poems. There are just three or four poems in there.
The author's accounts of the people he meets, the scenery and his personal struggles with the physical and mental stress of the walk are enjoyable and interesting to read.
Although Simon's journey is more about the experience of walking the Pennine Way, the breakdown of the route may be useful to walkers thinking of undertaking the long distance walk. Those that have already done it may like to read about what they have already achieved and know what the author is talking about.
Overall, this is an engaging read, written in a style that will appeal to a wide audience.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Drowning in mud and despair; very eloquently, 16 July 2012
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This review is from: Walking Home (Hardcover)
Interesting well written book; not at all like the usual nerdish walking guides. But my gut feeling is that it wasn't written as a result of the walk but rather the walk was undertaken in order to write the book. There's an awful lot of these book driven enterprises about these days. Some years ago Victoria Coren wrote a book about making a porn film but again I suspect the book deal came before the porn film.

As a former long distance walker myself I am baffled by Simon Armitage's mindset and psyche. I suppose it must come from his profession and the ability to write to order about virtually anything and make a drama about it; even when no drama really exists. Despite being equipped with mobile phone, satelite navigation, maps, guide books and numerous volunteer guides he plumbed the depths of despair when lost in the mud and mists along the way. And as for the ending; words fail me.

While his book isn't nerdish I was amused by his careful counting and recording of his takings down to the last penny every night. Apart from anything else, the books absurd notion of earning his living as a 'modern troubadour' is ridiculous. His careful income/expenditure audit took absolutely no account of the time spent by a great many people organizing his walk and poetry readings and helping along the way.

All that being said, I greatly admire his technical skills as a writer; mores the pity they couldn't be put to better use.

One final thought. What on earth was he carrying in that heavy pink suitcase? Surely not sales samples!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Walking words, 10 Aug. 2012
By 
N. A. Staines "Anvil Lines" (London, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Walking Home (Hardcover)
An easy and engaging read, and Simon Armitage's descrptions of people and places are masterful. If, like me, you have never walked the length of the Pennine Way, but have touched it in different spots over years of walking, you'll recognise the countryside, the villages and towns and the utter bleakness of high grounds. Mud and rain occupy many of the pages making it almost real. It hasn't encouraged me to walk the whole distance, so perhaps if you're thinking of the enterprise yourself, you might read this first. It shows too that earning a living as a wandering poet is unlikely to be successful in the long run.

Of course, we wonder about the walker's personal effort on the one hand and the energy and time of the many other people involved on the other, and the whole orchestration of the walk and the poetry readings, which SA gratefully and fulsomely acknowledges at the end, but read it for the pleasure of moving through the countryside with him, for the power of the writing and the enormous baggage of adjectives Armitage took with him.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and well written, 15 Jan. 2013
By 
Roe Deer (Cumbria, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Walking Home (Kindle Edition)
A book describing a walk could be very dull indeed, but SA strikes a good balance between describing the landscape and terrain, his own musings and the people he encounters. I don't know how someone from another part of the country would find this but having walked a lot in my native Cumbria and North Yorkshire I found it transmitted the feel of those places really well; perhaps less so North Yorks because that part has more of the thoughts/people than landscape, though I love his description of how the rock emits an atmosphere and type of light.

SA's use of language is, as you'd expect from a poet, inventive and beautifully descriptive and there are a few poems dotted through. For those with little patience with poetry they are short clear and enjoyable. A few more would have been nice but those are probably all he managed, being totally knackered every evening!! How he managed poetry readings is beyond me. There are some interesting photos too.

I gave this five stars because it's an original and interesting book.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sir Gawain in Goretex, 27 Jun. 2012
This review is from: Walking Home (Hardcover)
This book is a real crowdpleaser, and will be lapped up by those of us who like SA himself as much as (or perhaps rather than) his poetry. There's very little of the latter, so the book works very well as a personal take on schlepping the wrong way down the Pennine Way. The writing is fluent yet arresting.

There's something very reassuring about SA's world of strong family ties, living local, indie rock and confectionery. In its own way it's no different from that of the Sunday evening TV dramas he jokes about as he goes through the Dales, but there is an honesty and a rootedness in the contemporary here which stops things becoming twee.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a Way to go, 24 Aug. 2012
This review is from: Walking Home (Hardcover)
Simon Armitage's earthy humour and closeness to his Yorkshire roots are again to the fore, in this account of his recent trek across the Pennine Way - ostensibly an uneventful if gruelling journey, but one that, filtered through the poet's unique style, becomes a Homer-esque odyssey, where the elements are personified as demons attempting to thwart his quest, and where kind everyday folk provide the support (and frequent guilt-trips) that sustain the intrepid traveller and give him much food for thought.
Continuing a rich tradition in recent years of quirky travel writing, Armitage's latest book is utterly absorbing and eminently readable; if occasionally cloying when the writer attempts to pay homage to his wife and daughter, but he can surely be forgiven this minor indulgence, as the overall reading experience is a wholly rewarding one.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars rich prose but lacking a spark, 7 Dec. 2013
By 
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This review is from: Walking Home (Kindle Edition)
Walking home Simon Armitage
3.5 Reading this felt a little like walking the Penine way. Let me explain: I started optimistically, engaged by the jovial tone, eagerly reading the opening chapters entertained by the carefully considered prose, and looking up maps to chart the route. I paced myself, anticipating each chapter of an evening matching the pace of the walk. Then from about half way a sense of despondence settled rather like a fine mist and I rather suspected I would quietly sneak off before the fog finally descended.

It wasn't that Armitage's writing gradually deteriorated, but somehow I lost my way and I couldn't determine why. I just couldn't gain a real sense of direction or purpose and searching for it through google maps became tedious. Perhaps I felt frustrated by the black and white photographs that did less to place the journey than the descriptions. Perhaps it was the absence of maps to chart the progress. Either way something was missing. Given the ending, perhaps it did accurately chart Armitage's mood: it increasingly seemed to lack a joy or engagement with either the people he met or the journey itself. It began to feel like a chore, something he had committed to and felt obliged to finish. And yet, just as I was ready to give up I turned a page and was met by a blast of sunlight in the shape of a poem, all the more radiant for being placed unexpectedly in the midst of the prose. And perhaps it was as simple as that. Armitage is a poet.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Poetic prose, 10 Aug. 2012
By 
J. Wickens (Nottingham) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Walking Home (Hardcover)
The number of actual poems may be tiny, but there is poetry on every page of this book.

What do you look for in a book? Plot development? Characters? Observation and Insight? Language?

Plot development: None. In virtually every chapter, SA gets up, walks the next leg of his journey, and gives a poetry reading in the evening. Score: 0/10

Characters: Many (SA's hosts at the overnight stops, people who briefly walk along with him, even his family at one point) appear along the way, but disappear again almost as quickly. In a few lines of prose, they become real people - you won't find out much about their appearance, but you'll know exactly how you'd feel in their company. It is SA himself, of course, who is the central character; he spends a lot of time with himself over the course of the journey, and produces the most honest character portrait you could hope for - you feel you are inside the head of the narrator, complete with hopes and dreams, faults and foibles. Score: 7/10

Observation and Insight: This is where SA the poet comes into his own. Poetry heightens the senses, and every description - of a cairn, a crow, a peat bog, the hostel drying-room, an encounter with strangers - produces a glow of recognition or throws new light on the everyday. Score: 10/10

Language: Whether wry, humorous, melancholy, angry, lyrical or matter-of-fact, it is always limpid and a delight to read. This is a book for readers who like to savour every word; not for those who skim through to get to the next bit of action (you may skim in vain). Score: 10/10

Hill-walkers should particularly enjoy this book, but so should anyone with a sensibility to nature and fine writing. I certainly did.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Also disappointed!, 11 Jan. 2013
This review is from: Walking Home (Hardcover)
I hoped for a great deal more insight into the places and people Simon Armitage saw and met (including his much-maligned friend Slug, who seemed to have a great deal of comic potential)and perhaps into his creative thinking as he yomped across the Dales. Didn't really happen. Nor any very dramatic events (got a bit lost twice and lost his walking poles). It turned into a series of repetitive lists with an anticlimactic ending.
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Walking Home by Simon Armitage (Paperback - 4 April 2013)
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